Cinnamon Pear Cake with Maple Brown Butter

Mariel here. My mother – a bona fide festivity-phile – deemed every holiday worthy of its own special breakfast. On our birthdays we had Eggs in a Hat; on Easter it was Blueberry Pancakes; on Valentine’s Day we ate Heart-Shaped Waffles; and on Christmas and Thanksgiving, my mom whipped up her world-famous Walnut Crumble Coffee Cake. One of my favorite family traditions (we have many), these celebratory breakfasts are something that I’ve carried with me as a full-grown Big Kid.

In honor of the winter holidays that lay ahead, I’ve divined my own holiday breakfast idea. Admittedly a more decadent beginning than any regular weekday warrants, this delicious dish also works well as a dessert (paired with vanilla ice cream, natch). And it’s cheap, really cheap, especially if you keep a well-stocked pantry.

While I won’t try and pretend this is health-conscious, I halved the usual cup of oil by simmering the pears in a bit of water ensuring that the dearth of oil didn’t result in a lack of moisture (yes, the old applesauce trick). This method also solves the rock-hard pear problem that’s inevitably playing out at your local grocery. I mean has anyone ever found ready-to-eat pears? I haven’t. But I’m looking.

Print This Recipe Print This Recipe

Cinnamon Pear Cake with Maple Brown Butter
Serves 15-20

Ingredients for Cake:
3 pears (any variety will work, I used Boscs), peeled, cored and chopped roughly – $2.08
1 teaspoon cinnamon – stock
½ cup water – stock
½ cup oil (canola, vegetable, corn) – stock
3 eggs – stock
3 cups all-purpose flour – stock
2 cups light brown sugar, loosely packed – stock
1 teaspoon baking soda – stock
2 teaspoons vanilla – stock
1 cup chopped walnuts, lightly toasted – stock

Ingredients for Maple Brown Butter:
½ cup light brown sugar – stock
½ stick unsalted butter (4 Tablespoons worth) – stock
3 Tablespoons pure maple syrup – stock
¼ cup milk (I used skim) – stock
Grand total assuming “well-stocked” kitchen: $2.09
Cost per serving: $0.14

1. In a medium lidded saucepan, combine the water, cinnamon and pears over high heat. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 15 minutes. Remove the lid and continue simmering uncovered for additional 5 minutes, until pears are tender. Set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

3. Lightly butter and flour the bottom and sides of a 9X13″ baking pan. Set aside.

4. In a medium bowl, very lightly whisk together the flour and baking soda.

5. Using an electric or hand mixer, combine sugar and oil until blended. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until just incorporated.

6. On lowest speed, slowly add the flour mixture and mix until just combined (don’t over-mix). Still on low speed, add the pear mixture and mix until just combined (again, don’t over mix). The batter will be very thick.

7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan (spreading evenly) and bake for 30-35 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean). Remove from oven and place the pan on a wire rack. Cool for at least 10 minutes.

8. Meanwhile, combine all of the Maple Brown Butter ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat through until the mixture bubbles, reduce heat to low and simmer for 1-2 minutes. Strain the sauce (a regular colander works fine) over a spouted bowl to remove any clumps.

9. Once the cake is cool enough to touch the pan, use a knife to loosen the edges of the cake. Invert onto a wire rack and then invert again onto your serving plate (top-side up for “saucing”). Repeatedly prick the top of the cake using a fork or knife (you’re creating little holes that’ll allow the sauce to seep down). Pour half the sauce over the cake, sprinkle the toasted walnuts over the cake, then pour the remaining sauce over the walnuts. Cut, serve and enjoy!


  1. says

    We live in a relatively remote place much of the year and pears don’t always find their way to us, but apples seem always to be available. Have you ever tried this with apples? Do you suppose there is any good reason not to?

    • feastonthecheap says

      You can absolutely use apples in this recipe, you don’t even need to make any alterations. Just treat them as you would the pears!

    • feastonthecheap says

      When I was a little girl, my mom called them Popeyes, but It was my best friend Joan, from Chicago, who converted me to calling them Eggs in a Hat. Mariel liked the name and so it stuck! Thanks so much for stopping by and Happy V-day! Best, Mary Anne


  1. […] Mary Anne here. As you may have noticed, Mariel has been on a breakfast binge as of late, creating a smorgasbord of delectable dishes like Whole Wheat Maple Pomegranate Pancakes, Ginger & Cinnamon-Spiced French Toast and her very own Cinnamon Pear Cake with Maple Brown Butter. […]

  2. […] The end result – meeting a new foodie and cooking something or things from their collection of good things. I have found over the years that cooking just one thing is not a good way to learn about what makes a person tick. Or in the case of my ‘assignment’ this month – people. This month I was matched with Feast on the Cheap which is run by Mother and Daughter Duo Mary Ann and Mariel. Mary Ann is caterer and Mariel is writer with extraordinary culinary skills learned at her mother’s side. Between the two of them there is an awesome collection of great recipes.Not only that – the cost of every recipe is laid out for you with the ingredients. Thus the name “FEAST ON THE CHEAP”!! It was great to see how much each dish would cost. I usually make three different treats. Usually a side and an entree and maybe a sweet treat. But it seems everything I went looking for something I was in need of something sweet. So here are two desserts – unusual for me – and a nice little quinoa dish.I had a quart jar of pears in the pantry. We have a couple of trees so I put up pears every year. Finding this… Cinnamon Pear Cake with Maple Brown Buttercake […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *